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Mycology: Plant Pathogenic Fungi


Evolution of Plant-Pathogenic Fungi

Research in the lab focuses on understanding the genetic basis of emerging plant diseases caused by fungi. We are particularly interested in the evolutionary processes that contribute to population-level diversity, to the formation of new species, and to species diversification. We aim to uncover the genetic basis for differences in pathogenicity, virulence, and host specialization within species and among closely-related species. We want to understand differences between agricultural and natural populations of fungal plant pathogens and how agriculture shapes population structure and diversity. We use population genetics, population genomics, comparative genomics, and molecular phylogenetics to answer our questions.

Other interests include phylogeography, fungal mating systems, and using population genetics to solve epidemiological problems in the field including sources of inoculum, pathogen overwintering mode, populations overcoming host resistance, and the evolution of fungicide resistance.

See our Research & Publications pages to learn more about our work.

Lab News

Jeff DeLong, MS student, awarded UGA Plant Center Student Travel Award



May 26, 2015. Jeff won a Student Travel Award from the UGA Plant Center to attend the 2015 APS meeting in Pasadena, California. Good work Jeff!


Jeff DeLong and Lani Sumabat, MS students, win American Phytopathological Society Student Travel Awards



April 21, 2015. Jeff won the Efrat Gamliel-Atinsky Student Travel Award and Lani won the José and Silvia Amador Student Travel Award to attend the 2015 APS meeting in Pasadena, California. Congratulations Jeff and Lani!




Thomas Gotilla places third for his oral presentation at the CAES 2015 Undergraduate Research Symposium


April 16, 2015. Thomas won for his research using comparative genomics to analyze mating-type loci in gummy stem blight fungi. Nice job!




Jane Stewart moving to Colorado State University for new position as Assistant Professor of Forest Pathology


March 17, 2015. Congratulations to Jane on her exciting new job! She will begin her tenure-track faculty position at CSU in August.



Amanda Calvird, undergraduate lab assistant, wins Student Employee of the Year Award


March 17, 2015. Amanda was chosen as one of the top 100 student workers on campus at UGA. Good work Amanda!



Leilani Sumabat (center right), MS student, wins Cedric Kuhn Outstanding Graduate Student Award









March 11, 2015. The Georgia Association of Plant Pathologists (GAPP) presents an annual Cedric Kuhn Outstanding Graduate Student Award to recognize excellence in the pursuit of graduate studies by an M.S. student in the Department of Plant Pathology at UGA.



Leilani Sumabat (right) and Jeff DeLong (left), MS students, pictured with GAPP President Hunt Sanders (center), win presentation awards


March 11, 2015. At the Georgia Association of Plant Pathologists (GAPP) meeting in Savannah, Leilani won first place for her presentation on the host range and genetic diversity of Corynespora cassiicola in the Southeast and Jeff won second place for his presentation on the development of molecular markers from the genome of the Gladiolus rust fungus Uromyces transversalis.



Jane Stewart wins UGA Postdoc Association Travel Award







February 27, 2015. Jane was one of the three recipients from over twenty applicants of a travel grant by the UGA Postdoctoral Association. She will be presenting her work on the population genomics of Exobasidium maculosum at the Annual Meeting of the American Phytopathological Society in Pasadena, CA.



Thomas Gotilla, undergraduate researcher, awarded CAES/CURO scholarship


January 15, 2015. Thomas's undergraduate research project “Genomic Approaches to Understanding Gummy Stem Blight of Cucurbits” was funded and he was awarded a scholarship through the College of Agriculture and Environmental Science and Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities program.


Leilani Sumabat, MS student, wins oral presentation award

lani award

November 15, 2014. Leilani won third place for her presentation, "Host range and phylogenetic diversity of Corynespora cassiicola, cause of target spot of cotton in the southeastern USA," at the CAES Interdisciplinary Graduate Plant and Soil Symposium.


Jane Stewart, postdoc, wins poster presentation award


October 23, 2014. Jane was awarded third place for her poster "Extreme genetic diversity in Exobasidium maculosum, an emerging pathogen of blueberry in the southeastern USA" at the 2014 Fall Retreat of the UGA Plant Center at Unicoi State Park.



Hao-Xi Li, PhD student, receives American Phytopathological Society Student Travel Award


April 23, 2014. Haoxi will be presenting his research on the population biology of cucurbit gummy stem blight fungi at the Annual Meeting of the American Phytopathological Society in Minneapolis, MN.



Hao-Xi Li, PhD student, wins Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award from UGA


March 13, 2014. Congratulations Haoxi on receiving an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award from the University of Georgia! We appreciate your dedication to teaching.

University of Georgia (UGA) College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES)